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The rise of populism: Should we be worried? - UpFront

Across the globe, right-wing populists are riding high - from Brexit, to the election of US President Donald Trump, to the possible rise of Marine Le Pen. Is this the dawn of a new nationalist era and how worried should we be?

New York University history professor and expert on fascism Ruth Ben-Ghiat says we've reached a point where people are being "fed" narratives.

"I think we're definitely living in a new era," says Ben-Ghiat, author of Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema. "We're also being fed a series of crisis narratives by the new right, which would like us to be in a new era where everything is decaying and they are the answer; they are the saviours."

For senior Haaretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer, the "identity politics" of populism have been a constant presence, but have only recently intensified.

"It's not a new phenomenon," says Pfeffer, also a correspondent for the Economist. "But what we're seeing now - the way it's being used in a much more amplified way over the various modern ways that we have had communications, especially social media - takes this to a much more populist form of politics than we've had in the past."

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, likens the new populist wave to the Middle East.

"I remember listening to one of Trump's rallies and thinking to myself, he has a very hypnotic way of speaking," says Shadi, author of Islamic Exceptionalism. "We might hate what he says, but there is a charisma that we have to acknowledge, and he taps into the ... darker aspects of the human psyche.

"That's something that Arab autocrats or various Islamist groups in the Middle East have been doing for a long time."

But for Martin Quencez, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, we shouldn't rush to associate leaders like Trump and Le Pen.

"I would actually be very cautious not to link all these different elections," says Quencez. "I think there are some similarities between these different countries, but generally speaking, we have to take into account the national singularities."

In this UpFront special, a transatlantic panel of academics and journalists examine the populist and nativist wave.

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